Govt steps in to maintain PBS access to fast acting insulin

Patients with diabetes will continue to have access to fast-acting insulin Fiasp on the PBS for a further six months under ‘supply-only’ arrangements, the Federal Minister for Health has announced.

It follows a decision confirmed earlier this month by Novo Nordisk to remove its Fiasp vial and Fiasp FlexTouch products from the PBS on 1 April, with the drug manufacturer stating that a “significant price cut” by the government meant it was no longer commercially viable to continue supply.

The decision, which is expected to affect an estimated 15,000 patients with type one diabetes, has caused concern among the diabetes community, including advocacy groups and doctors.

However, Minister for Health Mark Butler said on Friday [link here] that the Federal Government had stepped in to secure access for patients for the next six months by issuing a ‘supply-only’ order for the products.

The order allows patients who already have a PBS prescription for Fiasp to continue to refill their current or repeat scripts until October.

However, the arrangement only covers dispensing, not prescribing, meaning any PBS scripts written for Fiasp after the product has been delisted on 1 April will not be valid.

Mr Butler urged patients who had previously used Fiasp but did not have a current prescription to visit their doctor to discuss their best treatment options before the cut-off date.

He also pledged to continue working with diabetes advocacy groups and the industry to ensure patients had access to an equivalent product once the supply-only order expired.

“We have been working behind the scenes because this was a shock to us that the company would take this action, particularly so quickly,”  Mr Butler told the Sydney radio station 2GB.

“We’ve communicated the supply order late yesterday to the company. They accept the legal force of that, so they’re bound by that, now.

“It’s a legal order made by the Commonwealth Government.”

Diabetes Australia CEO Justine Cain welcomed the government intervention.

“We hope that over the next six months the Department of Health and Novo Nordisk continue discussions and reach an agreement that benefits people living with diabetes.”

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